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Beijing 2006 - Walking home through the rubble

Marjolein Katsma

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Wall Art


Artist's Description

Share this page Photo © 2006 Marjolein Katsma | Text © 2012 Marjolein Katsma

Tags for this photograph:
beijing, china, hutong, rubble, destruction, demolition, garbage, depressing, city planning, town planning, avenue

This is part of the second series of Beijing 2006 – The hutong photos; see my journal posts Beijing 2006 – The hutong and Beijing 2006: Out with the old, in with the new for the background of this series.

See the location on a satellite map (Google’s street map doesn’t register with the satellite view!)

One more depressing image… My grandmother used to say “’t mut earst op ’t slimst fur ’t bettert” (it has to get worst before it gets any better), and seeing this image always brings that saying to my mind.

In this case, it’s impossible to push the pin in the satellite map precisely because all of this has completely gone now. I know I took this shot just one minute after exiting the Temple of Heaven park through the West Gate, and where I went after that, so it’s probably a good approximation.

That home the little girl and her dad are walking to no longer exists. In fact the whole block of buildings South West of the West Gate no longer exists… My little Beijing map that was printed in 2001 still shows that, and a single road running South-North from the (then former) Yongding Gate (Yong Ding Men) as part of a great axis going all the way to the Forbidden City (Palace Museum). The gate was reconstructed in (or from) 2005, and new roads were built to either side of it forming a wide avenue with a park (and pedestrian road) in the middle, not only allowing for more traffic, but also very much part of sprucing up the city and its monuments for the influx of millions of visitors for the 2008 Olympics. Where the little girl and her dad are walking, is now part of the park just about where the double avenue converges into a single road (but wider than before). Roam a bit over the satellite image, and you clearly see the park (its greenery still young), and farther South the newly-constructed Yongdingmen sitting on a pedestrian ‘island’ with the two arms of the avenue passing it on either side.

It looks pretty now, from the air at least – but when I took this shot I had no idea what was coming. All I saw was a little girl and her dad walking home through the rubble. A home that no longer exists by now.

Camera: Fuji Finepix F30

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Mounted print


Demolition along Meishi Street

Making space for a new road

Artwork Comments

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